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Forum editorial: Water vital to future of W. Fargo

Today's issue: West Fargo to fund water treatment plant study. Our position: It's smart public policy to plan for future water needs. West Fargo's decision to press ahead with a water plant study is yet another indication of the city's rapid growth.

Today's issue: West Fargo to fund water treatment plant study.

Our position: It's smart public policy to plan for future water needs.

West Fargo's decision to press ahead with a water plant study is yet another indication of the city's rapid growth. The fastest-growing major city in North Dakota is looking far down the road and planning for a water treatment plant that will serve West Fargo residents for generations.

It's no small matter. For most of its history West Fargo has relied on wells with limited capacities for its water supply. A new plant likely would treat water from the Sheyenne River, much like Fargo's water plant treats Red River water.

The city's population remained relatively static for many years, in large part because so much of potential development area was in the flood plain of the Sheyenne River. The river tended to spill out of its channel regularly, thus making thousands of acres of land off limits to development.

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All that changed a few years ago when the Horace, N.D., and West Fargo segments of the Sheyenne Diversion flood control project became operational. The project, which diverts floodwaters from the river into channels, holds river levels down during floods. It took thousands of acres out of the flood plain. It made the city of West Fargo and its environs far less prone to flooding. As a result, the city could grow along the winding course of the river, and it has.

The growth put new demands on all basic infrastructure. Concerns about the future water supply have been on the agenda for years.

This week the West Fargo City Commission took a big step toward building a new water treatment plant. A study - which will cost nearly $210,000, will examine the best methods of treatment and possible locations for the plant. The eventual cost, including revamping the city's existing water delivery systems, could be $40 million. As the project unfolds, it's likely West Fargo water users will see water bills rise, just as bills rose when the new Fargo water plant was built.

A reliable supply of water is vital for a city's growth. Good water is a selling point when families move to a city. Industrial growth depends on water.

The city is not running out of water. Its supply for the near future is adequate. But a pace of growth that has put strains on other basic city services will eventually tax the old water system. Moving now to build a state-of-the-art treatment plant with enough capacity to accommodate future growth is good management.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.

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